At our training day in Janruary we discussed how to approach someone who is using Jesus Calling as their devotional. Katrina & I (Teresa) have had several conversations related to this topic. While this may not be an exact script, our discussions have gone something like this. We hope you will find some helpful tips here. Feel free to leave us comments and ideas.
T: I saw a quote from Jesus Calling on Facebook. It was posted by a person I know, but she’s not really someone I talk to very often. Should I respond?
K: Prayerfully! Praying for wisdom, the right attitude, and her response. If you know her well enough to make casual conversation, a face to face conversation is always the best. Texts and messaging can easily be misunderstood without the tone and body language of face to face conversation. Have an attitude of love and humility. Remember, our aim is God’s best in women’s lives, not to be the “Facebook police” looking for errors to point out.
T: What are your thoughts in deciding if I have a responsibility to talk to someone I am aware of reading the devotional?
K: The summary of several verses is - the one who knows goes. So basically if you know, you have a responsibility. Then, you are not just letting yourself off the hook without truthfully considering if you do or not. Taking responsibility will keep you from thinking thoughts like, they probably have already heard and they don’t care. Or, they won’t listen to me. Or, it’s not my place. If this person is a friend or close enough that you can talk about this, then you have a responsibility. Do you generally talk to this person, or text them? If so, do it now. If not, consider just approaching them and saying, “I know we don’t know each other that well, but I really want to talk to you about something that seems important to you.”
T: I like the idea of face to face. I have noticed confrontations usually don’t go well on Facebook. It’s hard to show your love and care through typed words. And it is in full view of too many people. How can you be intimate and caring and tailor your conversation to a unique person, with 500 invisible friends looking on?
K: That’s a good point. And I would like to also mention, be careful what you post on Facebook. You may be posting a phrase or saying that is well intended, or even biblical. But the site the post came from, or the author who quoted it, may be integrating truth with falsehood. By reposting or liking it, you are endorsing not only that item but that book or person. Someone might follow that person or read the book based on a post you made
T: Recently a friend and I were looking at a quote to post for New Year’s. We found a quote we liked, but when we looked up the person given credit for the quote, we discovered he was a former leader of the Mormon Church. That is not a church we would want to be validating.
T: Back to Jesus Calling, I also had a friend ask me about the book. She showed it to me. I scanned it briefly and just said, “I see a few red flags.” I didn’t do any research and didn’t show her what made me unsure it would be spiritually good for her. She trusted me, and didn’t use the book. Perhaps there’s a better way to help someone understand more about making sound judgements in their reading material?
K: It’s apparent you have a good relationship with that person. Friends usually like to hear what their friends think of things. If they didn’t want to hear your thoughts, they probably wouldn’t be your friend or ask you in the first place. Your friend appears to be serious about wanting to grow deeper in their relationship with God. Otherwise they’d be reading fiction or a magazine, or spending their time in a different way from reading a devotional. She just needed a little encouragement to be discerning about the way she was going about it.
T: I later I felt like I missed a good learning experience for myself, and a good teaching experience for my friend, by not looking into the book a little more deeply personally, and then sharing my concerns with her and discerning together whether or not it aligns with God’s word. I didn’t pay the book much consideration at the time. I didn’t realize how popular that book was or how ‘off’ it was.
K: And it’s not likely they realize how this book strays from biblical truth and doctrine. When scriptures are mixed with half-truths, it can be confusing. And this book is written from an emotional, experiential level, which tends to appeal to women, along with the short devotional style that appeals to our busy lives. I can understand some of the draw for women.
T: We must avoid making rash judgments about our friends. If we are to love God and love others, we are to love in a way that wants to believe the best about the person and situation, and we ALWAYS must ask questions rather than make assumptions. (1 Cor 13 / Prov 18:13).
K: In summary, the best approach to a good friend or casual acquaintance is to talk to them in person and come with an attitude of humility. I can think of books I have read and maybe liked, but as I learned and grew I found out they were off. We don't really know what is going on in their lives and thinking until we ask them. We need to ask questions to find out how to give an answer.
T: Oh, Katrina, I was thinking the same thing. And I would have been devastated if someone attacked me when I thought I was doing what I could to learn and grow and be close to God.
K. It’s important to approach a person at the right time when you can talk and she can listen. Come with a spirit of love and grace. She will notice that. But speak the truth. Don’t try to sugar coat or gloss over real issues. Address them clearly and concisely.
T: I do that sometimes. I package it so sweetly it can be hard to know what I’m saying. Or I begin to ramble. After putting together some information that shows you’ve studied, and after looking at the book, write something out, and practice what you are going to say.
K: And pray! We do need to be discerning women, who then lovingly encourage others. We should not stop with the book, Jesus Calling. This same thought process can be used to discuss other writers, books, or organizations, that may lead women from the truth of the Word, hinder their growth, and cause confusion.
T: We can always be confident in the Bible, and spending time there will help us grow in the area of discernment. As always, Katrina, thanks for talking this through with me.